Addressing the issue

On our return to Gol we were greeted by a demand for payment from Utrecht Council. Apparently we’ve not been paying our gemeentebelasting. “Hmmm” we thought “we don’t remember getting the initial bill from the council.” However, we immediately noticed a problem that might have caused this.

The address on the demand letter is:
S Williams
Brikevegen Lia

Now, those of you who know our address will realise that this is quite different to our address. In fact it is amazing that the Norwegian postal service managed to deliver this letter at all, although it is not a surprise that it took a month to get to us.

Damae phoned Utrecht council and first time got a very unhelpful lady who was not interested in the fact that the letter had been addressed incorrectly and merely told us that we were responsible for paying our council tax and it was our fault if we didn’t do so. Interestingly she did confirm that the address they had for us on their computer system was in fact correct and that our address could only be changed in writing or by a visit to the Burgerzaken office. She also told us that we had to pay the complete amount (more than Eur 600) in one go. Finally Damae realised that the lady at the council was not going to help us in any way and hung up.

Ten minutes later she phoned back and got a much more helpful lady who told us we could still pay the sum in six monthly installments by direct debit and what information we needed to put in the letter to the council. She once again confirmed that the council did have our correct address but could not explain why the letter (and presumably the bill we never got) had an incorrect address.

Now this needs to be addressed. Either there is a problem in the IT systems at the council which means that addresses are not passed correctly from the GBA to the billing systems at the council. Or there has been a breakdown in procedures. Someone has amended our address without or without authorisation. If they were authorised to change the address, then there should be a paper trail in the IT system that can be checked. If not, then the history in the computer system should, at least, show who amended the address.

Whatever the reason, I am going to send a letter the council and complain. Whilst it is annoying that we have been charged administration costs by the council for their error, the more important issue is the unauthorised alteration of our address details at the council. This should never happen with properly designed information processing systems. Nor should it happen when people follow procedures correctly.

2 thoughts on “Addressing the issue

  1. Ah, but the surprise is the new and creative ways in which the Dutch bureaucratic system manages to screw things up.

    There is some saying about trying to design foolproof systems and the abilities of fools to adapt their idiocy as needed.

    I guess it applies here.

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